Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Ferrero Rocher (Chocolate and Hazelnut) Cake

It was the birthday of one of the fiancé's friends yesterday and so I offered to make a birthday cake for the occasion.  Well, actually I offered to make it last week with the intention of having it done for Saturday since that is when they were having their birthday party.  A Ferrero Rocher cake was requested, since the cupcakes I made had been a favourite of theirs.  I thought this would be an interesting challenge because ideally I still wanted a nut and nutella filling in the centre of every cake slice, rather than just having a layer of nutella and nuts between the cake layers (though I did end up doing both).  And then I had the idea to make it spherical!  I had invested in some hemisphere pans from Lakeland at the start of the year and so far had not had an excuse to use them.  This could be perfect and then the cake could look like a giant Ferrero Rocher!

Now, I bet you're thinking, 'But Becca, that cake in the picture isn't spherical.  That's a standard, round cake.'  Well, you're right, it isn't spherical.  It's not spherical because the spherical cake was a disaster.  When I set out, all seemed to be going well though I did discover I had lost the accompanying sheet of instructions for the tins and therefore was not sure how much to fill them by and since I was working from a cupcake recipe, I was going to have to work out the timing as I went.  My initial guess at the amount to fill the tin by was way off, since I put the entire amount in, and the thing overflowed.  In spite of that though, the cake itself came out pretty perfect.  A lovely hemisphere indeed, especially after I cut off the overflow.  It did take forever to cook all the way through but it was beautifully moist and no part of it was overcooked.  I was rather pleased as I whipped up a second batch of mixture, with the intention of only filling the tin with half of it this time.  

This is where things started to go wrong.  I only have one of each size of tin, so I had to bake the two halves one after the other in the same tin.  On the first one, I took the time to both grease the tin and line it with greaseproof paper.  As you can imagine, this is really quite fiddly.  However, I'd found a review of the pans whilst the first half was baking (to help me work out how much I should fill it so it didn't overflow again) that said the instructions only called for the pan to be greased.  No paper should be needed as it was supposed to be non-stick, something that would improve over uses due to a natural patina building up.  Well, cool, I thought and on the second go I only greased the pan.  I bet you can guess what happened?  The cake stuck.  According to what I had read, a couple of shakes was all that was needed to release the cake from the tin.  My couple of shakes caused the centre of the cake to fall out.  Oh dear.  I was not happy but I still had batter left so I cleaned the tin, lined it with paper this time and put the rest of the mixture in.  It would be fine, if getting late in the day as it was about 11pm by this point.

The third attempt didn't even get to finish cooking.  Whilst attempt two had been in the oven, I had decided to start filling the first half of the cake.  I cut out a 'tunnel' in the flat side of the hemisphere and filled it with nutella and hazelnuts.  My intention was to mirror it on the other half so once they were sandwiched together and then sliced, there would be a 'core' that ran through each slice.  I'm sure it would have been awesome...if the cake had not collapsed in on itself, with my assistance.  The cake had been fine with its filling until just after I put in attempt three.  It was then that I noticed a split had occurred on one side of the first half.  Concerned, I tried to patch it with nutella but I needed something to hold it together.  So I moved it to sit inside a slightly smaller hemisphere pan.  It certainly squeezed the crack shut, but it also caused the centre of the cake to drop out and all the filling to spill.  It was in pieces and therefore ruined.  The fiancé had to pause his running of his online RPG to come comfort me after he heard the wail from the kitchen.  I then proceeded to turn the oven off and sulk on the sofa for the remainder of the evening before the fiancé finished up and we went to bed.

Looking back, I think I know what my major mistake was.  I should have let the cakes cool in the tin.  It's something I usually do but have never given consideration as to why.  You do it because it improves the cake's structure.  I'm not sure how (I should find out), but it does.  Many a cake collapse can be put down to not cooling in the tins.  Also, gravity didn't help and I should not have essentially suspended my cake during my attempts to save it.  But really, if it was cracking under its own weight, it would definitely not have been able to support the top half of the sphere when it got put on anyway.

So that's why the cake is just a regular, round cake.  I was tempted to try the sphere again but I decided I would risk it on something that wasn't meant to be a gift for someone else.  I already messed up by not providing a cake for the party (and he was so nice about it too) I was not going to let anyone down a second time.  A small part of me thinks that not having the sphere cake done for said party was probably okay since it turned out there were more people than I had thought.  I had assumed it would just be the fiancé's usual group but turns out there were 14 people in total instead.  I don't think the sphere would have been big enough in the end. Plus it probably would have been a pain to try and get it to Dundee on the train.  It wouldn't have fit in my cake transporter and if it went in one of the large tupperware boxes I'd probably have to pad it to stop it rolling about the place.  In future I shall save spheres for cakes that are not travelling very far.

I have to say, I was rather pleased with the finished product.  For a plain looking cake it still looked inviting, especially with that gold ribbon wrapped around it.  I thought that added a nice touch of flair and could represent the gold foil of the Ferrero Rocher.  Those of you who saw the cupcake version will probably have noticed that I took things a step further in this cake, as I decided to coat it in melted chocolate just to drive home that it is meant to be a Ferrero Rocher cake.  Part of me thinks I should have made a ganache but I don't always seem to have much success with it.  I attempted to make a chocolate and raspberry tart last week but it failed miserably, and part of that was down to the ganache splitting for unknown reasons.  Honestly, ganache seems like such a simple thing to make on paper but I never quite get it right.  I will conquer you one day you wretched beast!  So yeah, melted chocolate it was.

So the verdict on the taste is?  Well, one person said it was the best cake they've ever had in their life.  One was lost for words and had been 'reduced to a drooling caveman' and the birthday boy thought it was amazing.  I got phoned up to be told personally rather than waiting for the fiancé to get back and relay the result.  Obviously I am unbelievably chuffed with that response. 

Makes 2 x 20cm/8inch round layers
  • 80g/3oz butter
  • 280g/10oz caster sugar
  • 200g/7oz plain flour
  • 40g/1.5oz cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 240ml/8fl.oz milk
  • 50g/1.75oz hazelnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 and grease and line two 20cm/8inch round cake tins.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder until you get a mixture that resembles sand in texture.  To get the last of the lumps of butter out you may wish to rub it in with your fingers.
  3. Put the eggs and milk in a jug and whisk together.
  4. Pour three quarters of the egg milk into the dry ingredients and mix in until incorporated.
  5. Scrape down the edges of the bowl and add the rest of the liquid, beating until smooth and even.
  6. Crush the hazelnuts and beat into the mixture.
  7. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins and then bake in the oven for  30-35 minutes until risen, springy to the touch and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Allow to rest in the tins for about half an hour before turning out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.  Cakes must be cooled completely before decorating. 

  • 340g/12oz Nutella
  • 100g/3.5oz roasted hazelnuts   
  1. Once the cakes have cooled, place them with the topside of the bottom layer and the underside of the top layer facing upwards.
  2. Use a knife to trace around a 15cm/6inch circle (I used a cake tin) in the centre of each cake layer, being careful not to cut very deep.
  3. Do the same again with a 9cm/4inch circle.
  4. Now carefully remove some of the cake between the two sets of knife lines so you have a  dipped, circular ring running around the cakes about 5cm/2inches away from the edges.
  5. Put the Nutella in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring all the time until it reaches a runnier consistency.  Fill the rings with Nutella and then use the rest to cover the remaining tops of the cakes (the very centre and the two inch border around the edge).
  6. Top the Nutella inside the rings with whole hazelnuts.
  7. Crush the remaining hazelnuts and sprinkle over the rest of the Nutella.
  8. Carefully but quickly turn the top layer over on top of the bottom layer. Make sure you have one hand under the base and not both holding the sides or it will cave in on itself before you get a chance to flip it.  If it lands a little lopsided (mine did), gently adjust it.

Chocolate Buttercream:
  • 200g/7oz butter
  • 400g/14oz icing sugar
  • 155g/5.5oz milk chocolate
  • 175g/6oz roasted hazelnuts
  1. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl placed over a pan of lightly simmering water (but not touching the water).
  2. Beat the butter in a bowl until creamy.
  3. Sift in the icing sugar and mix in until your buttercream is pale and fluffy.
  4. Pour in the melted chocolate and beat until evenly incorporated.
  5. Use a butter knife to apply a very thin layer of buttercream to the top and sides of the cake to create a crumb coat.
  6. Use a rubber spatula to cover the cake with the rest of the buttercream and make sure it is smooth.
  7. Crush the hazelnuts with a rolling pin and press the pieces into the buttercream, covering the whole cake.
  8. Put in the fridge to chill and set the buttercream.
Chocolate Shell:
  • 200g/7oz milk chocolate
  1. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl placed over a pan of lightly simmering water (but not touching the water). 
  2. Remove the cake from the fridge and sit it on a wire rack suspended over a tray.
  3. Pour on top of the cake in the centre and then coax it towards and over the sides so that it covers all of the nuts and buttercream.  You can use a rubber spatula to help smooth the chocolate out but be gentle in case you dislodge the nuts.
  4. Leave to set.  


  1. Even though it's not the shape you wanted it looks and sounds delicious! I used to rush my cakes out of their tins, too, and have ended up jigsaw-ing pieces together in the past but I've now become a lot more patient and let them cool before turning them out ... I don't know how it works, but just that it does!

  2. It's not an orb of decadence, but it still looks amazing! And if it tasted anything like it looks like it should, I'm sure anyone would want that as a wedding cake.